I have been doing a lot of reading this week. Not all of the books I have been reading are related directly to Qigong—Yi Ren or other styles—but rather books about learning and design. In one book titled “The Design of Everyday Things” by Donald Norman, the author brings up an interesting point about learning.
[People develop math phobias] not because the material is difficult, but because it is taught so that the difficulty in one stage hinders further progress The problem is that once failure starts, it soon generalizes by self-blame to all of mathematics. …The viscous cycle starts: if you fail at something, you think it is your fault. Therefore you think you can’t do that task. As a result, next time you have to do the task, you believe you can’t so you don’t even try. The result is that you can’t, just as you thought. You’re trapped in a self-fulfilling prophecy. (Norman, 1988).
This excerpt got me thinking about how that concept applies to Yi Ren Qigong and the concept of worrying: worrying that I will fail, worrying that I will not make any progress, worrying that I will not be able to memorize or do the exercises correctly, and—worrying that I don’t have enough time!
I don’t have enough time to practice Qigong because I have to (fill in the blank). But actually, what I find is that when I am not practicing Yi Ren Qigong I spend most of my free time worrying. Instead of worrying for almost an hour a day that I am not going to the gym, eating right, practicing Qigong, meditating enough and doing other healthy lifestyle habits, I have found that I should just practice these habits.
For instance, for the next three months or so, I will be busier than the previous three months. However, in the previous three months, I fell behind in my Yi Ren Qigong practice. As a result, my overall well-being was not as balanced and I began to feel extremely stressed. Part of that stress was caused by knowing that I was not doing the things that keep me healthy. The thing is, balance is the key. Intellectual and business endeavors are important, however, as other Yi Ren Qigong practitioners have discovered, it is important to keep a balance between the mind, body and spirit: They all influence each other. And all of us have different needs. Take for instance this passage from the “Bhagavad Gita” Chapter 14 Text 5. “Because living entities have different kinds of bodies, in terms of the different aspects of nature, they are induced to act according to that nature. This is the cause of the varieties of happiness and distress.”
All in all, we can think with our brains, but we have to remember that we can also think with our bodies. Our bodies can communicate a great deal of information to us. Some might call this kind of thinking “feeling” or “sensing.” This type of thinking is not considered intellectual, but it is just as import in your Yi Ren Qigong Practice. But don’t take my word for it: here is what renowned martial artist and Taoist Lineage Master Bruce Frantzis has to say about it in his book “Relaxing Into Your Being: The Water Method of Taoist Meditation.” Here he is discussing the Teacher/Student relationship and how a teacher can communicate knowledge to a student.
“Although words and symbolic representations or images can allude to mind/body/spirit knowledge, the words themselves are rather like the shadow of the thing, rather than the thing itself….”(Frantzis, 1998).
Frantzis goes on to say (and this is my own summation in my own words) that a teacher’s energy that resides in his or her body and ultimately mind (not non-verbal cues, but rather feelings of knowledge—knowledge energy if you will) can be transferred to a student and implanted in his or her subconscious as a sort of seed of knowledge. These seeds sprout knowledge that is often more clear than what can be described with words and usually appears to the student when he or she is ready.
I bring this up because I, like many practitioners, have made the mistake of thinking that I can learn the concepts of Yi Ren Qigong much like, say, Mathematics (ie. I can read the concepts and do the exercises and therefore gain full knowledge). However, in my experience, much more knowledge is gained not by letting the intellectual material teach me about the exercises but rather the exercises leading me to knowledge about the intellectual material—the written words.
So this week, I thought about worry and how useless it is in my life. Of course we all have our worries and concerns. However, I have found that the answers to some of my questions are often discovered by taking time away from the task at hand to practice Yi Ren Qigong. This can often lead to more clarity in my mind, and more clarity leads to being more productive.
Norman, Donald A (1988). The Design of Everyday Things. New York, NY Basic Books.
Frantzis, B.K. (1998). Relaxing Into Your Being: The Water Method of Taoist Meditatio Volume1, Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.